NEW YORK—Speculation is swirling this week that Internet marketing and search giant Yahoo! Inc. is attracting potential suitors in a merger.
Yahoo has not attracted any bids from competitors since the ill-fated hostile takeover bid from software giant Microsoft Corp. Microsoft eventually backed down from the buyout proposal, in which it valued Yahoo at $45 billion. The bid eventually led to the resignation of longtime CEO Jerry Yang.
Yesterday, reports surfaced—quoting various anonymous sources—that AOL and a few of its private-equity partners, including Silver Lake Partners, are exploring a bid to acquire Yahoo. AOL would need a large amount of external financing as its market capitalization is about one-tenth the size of the much-bigger Yahoo.
Reuters, in a separate report on Thursday, said that Rupert Murdoch-owned News Corporation may be a potential bidder for Yahoo.
No evidence suggests that the Sunnyvale, Calif.-based Yahoo has been approached with any formal offers at this point, and all talks are private.
Yahoo, not taking anything for granted, has hired investment bank Goldman Sachs Group Inc. to help defend it against any potential hostile takeover approaches, according to reports.
Time will tell if current CEO Carol Bartz has plans to sell the company, but Wall Street is already betting that the latest takeover overtures will only ramp up speculation and attract more potential bidders.
Shares of Yahoo jumped on Thursday amid the speculation. Yahoo shares increased $0.68 to $15.93 at Thursday afternoon close, a jump of 4.5 percent.